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Rules For Dressage

Rules For Dressage


Rules for Dressage

 Dressage schooling shows are conducted according to the USEF Rules for Dressage Competitions, with exceptions as noted here. A current copy of the USEF Rulebook where the most recent rule changes are highlighted in red is available on the USEF website:

Some of the most common questions pertaining to rules are explained briefly here:

  • A simple snaffle, regular caveson, flash, figure-eight or drop noseband are required. A noseband is required for dressage competitions unless prior approval to ride without one has been obtained. Twisted wire bits are not permitted.  Refer to USEF Rules for Dressage #DR121:  Saddlery and Equipment for a complete explanation of permitted saddlery and equipment as well as pictures of all permitted bits.
  • Bandages, boots, blinders, martingales, draw reins, side reins, running reins or artificial devices are not permitted. Lunging with side reins and riding or lunging with boots, bandages, ear muffs or a running martingale is permitted only in the warm-up arena.
  • Whips may be carried during a test, but may not exceed 47.2″ (120 cm). Only one whip may be used during warm-up and must not exceed 47.2″ (120 cm). Whips are not permitted in any championship classes.
  • Riders may have a reader (except in final and championship classes); however, it is the rider’s responsibility to know the test. Movements may be read only once. All FEI tests, including FEI Jr. tests, must be ridden from memory. Reference USEF Rule DR#122.
  • Use of voice while riding your test is not permitted.
  • Committing three course errors, leaving the arena during the test or marked lameness results in elimination.
  • Riders may not show under a judge from whom they have received private or semi-private instruction within 30 days of the show. The conducting of clinics or assistance in group activities, such as Pony Clubs, unless individual instruction is given, will not be considered as instruction, coaching or tutoring. Should a rider choose to show, s/he will then be riding “Hors de Concours” (HC). His/her score will not count toward awards.
  • Horses may not be entered in classes differing by more than one level at any one show. The number of classes entered must comply with the USEF rule limiting the total number of classes in which a horse may be ridden per day. Currently horses competing at 4th level and below may enter a maximum of 3 classes per day. Horses competing at the FEI level can enter a maximum of 2 classes per day. DSE, Quadrille and PDD classes are excluded from the maximum limit of rides per day.
  • A rider must enter the arena within 45 seconds of the judge’s signal (usually a bell or a whistle).
  • If jackets are excused, a shirt of conservative color, with sleeves, must be worn. Stock ties are to be removed and the shirt should be left open at the neck.
  • The current USEF rule on Protective Headgear will be enforced at all shows.

The following exceptions to USEF rules are permitted at HVDS dressage schooling shows:

  • Smooth leather or leather like half-chaps may be worn if combined with matching colored paddock boots at all levels at schooling shows.


USDF Regional Schooling show Awards Programs Rules


 Regional Schooling Show Awards Program Rules General Information: 

1. Program year is December 1 through November 30. 

2. Scores may be earned in any USDF region. 

3. Late nominations, applications and results submissions will not be accepted. 

Rider Eligibility & Requirements: 

1. Rider must have a USDF Group Membership that is recorded by the Group Member Organization (GMO) at the time the scores are earned. 

2. Riders affiliated with an International GMO must declare a USDF region.

3. Owner must have at least a USDF non-member number at the time the scores are earned. 

4. Horse must have at least a USDF Horse Identification Number at the time the scores are earned. 

5. Rider must submit a one-time yearly online nomination and $35 nomination fee for each horse/rider combination no later than 14 days after the last day of the first competition. The nomination fee must be paid annually. 

6. Riders may change their division status during the program year. A rider’s status will be determined at the end of the program year. 

7. Rider must submit scores to USDF online no later than 21 days after the last day of the competition. 8. Only USDF members in good standing are eligible to compete in the USDF Regional Schooling Show Awards Program and receive awards. 

Award Divisions & Levels: 

1. Four award divisions will be recognized per region: 

a. Open: from the beginning of the calendar year the rider reaches age 22, not a USEF Adult Amateur (AA), not a non-professional.

b. Junior/Young Rider (Jr/YR): up until the end of the calendar year the rider reaches age 21. 

c. AA: from the beginning of the calendar year the rider reaches age 22 and possess a current USEF AA card. 

d. Non-Professional: from the beginning of the calendar year the rider reaches age 22, not a current USEF AA, not a professional. 

2. Seven levels (freestyle, pas de deux and quadrille not included) will be recognized per division. Exception: only 6 levels are recognized in the open division: 

a. Introductory (only in Jr/YR, AA and non-professional divisions)

b. Training 

c. First 

d. Second 

e. Third 

f. Fourth g. FEI – combination of Prix St. Georges, Intermediate I, Intermediate II and Grand Prix scores. 

3. Equivalencies listed in the current USDF Member Guide are eligible. Tests not listed as equivalencies will not be eligible. 

4. Preliminary standings will be ranked using a median of all eligible scores and will be available on the USDF website. 

5. Final awards standings will be based on the rider’s region of primary residence in the USDF database as of November 30. 

Score requirements: 

1. Introductory Level: a. Must have a minimum of five scores b. From three different judges c. From three different competitions 

2. Training through Fourth Levels (levels may not be combined to meet requirements): a. Must have a minimum of five scores b. From three different judges c. From three different competitions d. At least one score must be earned from the highest test of the level 

3. FEI Level (levels may be combined to meet requirements): a. Must have a minimum of four scores b. From three different judges c. From three different competitions 


1. Up to ten placings per division/level will be recognized. 

2. Ribbons will be mailed to the rider. 

3. Certificates will be available online.